Last weekend, Seattle won 4-2 over the New York Red Bulls in a match that was never very settled. Although few fouls were called, this was a physical affair involving fierce midfield battles. After building a comfortable 2-0 lead, the home team squandered it with two poor defending moments that New York were able to capitalize on. The Sounders had the better chances for much of the match and did just enough late to win at home, but there were plenty of changes in momentum. The potential to do much, much better was evident.
Stefan Frei — 6
Community Rating — 6.6
Frei seemed to do well in this match, but still let in two goals. It had been a weird season for the Seattle netminder; he’s given up a ton of goals and yet has looked pretty strong. Against New York, he made good decisions, organized his defense, and played well despite two balls getting behind him.
One thing I liked: Frei’s aggressiveness suited the defenders in front of him, and on multiple occasions he made great decisions to come out of the goal mouth to join the match. In the 5th he was off his line quickly to prevent Bradley Wright-Phillips from getting in behind and in the 65th he did it again. An 89th minute punch out in traffic was excellent.
One thing I didn’t like: The communication with his defense failed in the 60th minute. Frei ran into Xavier Arreaga and both fell, nearly allowing New York a good chance.
Going forward: Frei can only do so much, and against NYRB he did enough to win.
Brad Smith — 5
Community Rating — 6.4
Brad came back from national team duty and had a bit of a rough outing. He didn’t have any egregious mistakes, but with much of the Seattle possession and New York attack coming through him, the Sounders needed better left back play.
One thing I liked: While the Morris pairing didn’t show off his skills, Brad seemed much improved when Victor Rodriguez got on the field. Their ability to play off each other is impressive and something to build off of in the future.
One thing I didn’t like: Smith had the most touches on the entire team (20 more than Nico!) but then wasted those touches with 68% passing. If we are going to run our entire game plan through the left and Smith, his passes need to be better.
Going forward: Smith didn’t authoritatively grab the starting left back position with this outing, but Seattle won and it is likely his job to lose.
Xavier Arreaga — 7
Community Rating — 6.8
His team gave up a pair of goals, but Arreaga was excellent in this match. He supported a flagging left defensive side, and got out of a number of difficult positions with creative decision making that was safe and effective. Arreaga led Seattle with a massive 13 recoveries.
One thing I liked: His calm confidence in the back is contagious, and he might have the best handles of any backline player Seattle has ever had. Arreaga consistently befuddles opponents with his collection of cutbacks, feints, chops, and passes. It’s fun to watch.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 62nd minute X-man whiffed defensively on Michael Murillo charging into the box and there were a couple times where his aggressiveness was nearly a weakness.
Going forward: Arreaga is starting to show the technical skill to match his emotion.
Kim Kee-Hee — 6
Community Rating — 6.4
Kim did a lot in this match, roaming around in support of teammates while still holding down his central right defensive positioning. His five interceptions and seven clearances complemented his central partner well, as both looked much more comfortable with each other.
One thing I liked: On multiple occasions New York had a chance to cross low into the box, and on every one Kim slid expertly to block. This conceded corner kicks, but prevented anything dangerous into the six.
One thing I didn’t like: Kee-Hee made a few bad decisions with the ball, especially after the 70th minute when Seattle was rattled and needed composure. Instead of making clean, safe passes, he instead tried a number of dangerous speculative passes with higher upside, but they were not successful and put Seattle under undue pressure.
Going forward: Some people think Torres should replace Kim, but I haven’t seen much that shows he should be replaced.
Kelvin Leerdam — 6
Community Rating — 6.1
Against NY, Leerdam did a good job to defend and still find space to help the attack. His seven clearances showed an urgency that pushed the ball up the right side aggressively. A lot of his job was helped by the work rate of Roldan ahead of him, but Kelvin made good decisions when going forward.
One thing I liked: Leerdam is the one guy who seems to look for Ruidiaz from a deep position. Others look to the width, but Kelvin has an outside-in delivery that will be devastating if they dial it in.
One thing I didn’t like: Leerdam got absolutely bossed by Aaron Long who had a solid match for NY. Kelvin is great in the air, but Long dominated him and scored in minute 27.
Going forward: Leerdam was deceptively effective in defense, and New York only attacking Smith was smart. As he remains healthy, I would like Seattle to lean into his abilities, especially if Morris or Nico is ahead of him.
Jordy Delem — 7 (off 66’ for Rodriguez)
Community Rating — 6.2
Delem continues to play smart, solid soccer in the middle of the park and is a very good option to shelter the back four. Against NY, he was effective in defending in space and limiting the Red Bull possession around the edges of the box.
One thing I liked: Delem keeps pulling out passes and stuff I didn’t know he had in him. A 26th minute dribble broke an opponent’s ankles and it wasn’t just the move, it was that he was confident enough to do it near his own box. It was also directly part of a concerted and smart push into the offensive attack for Seattle.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 11th minute Delem nearly gave away the ball facing his own goal when multiple opponents collapsed on him. He needs to get rid of the ball quicker in the center of the field, especially when he is alone in the middle.
Going forward: Delem is a destroyer (ask Daniel Royer) and has accepted his role as such.
Gustav Svensson — 7
Community Rating — 7.0
Goose was really good against New York, and you might have missed it. He had 12 defensive actions, which ranged from sideline to sideline and well into the opponent’s half, led the team with four shots, and assisted on a goal.
One thing I liked: It was Svensson’s flick header that gave Morris a tap-in for the lead in the 2nd minute and it was Svensson who steadily defended the midfield all match.
One thing I didn’t like: When NY scored in the 67th minute he was caught upfield, and Seattle has a definite weakness in recognizing and defending direct, central runs through the middle.
Going forward: Goose is a member of every central defensive pairing that makes sense for Seattle going forward.
Jordan Morris — 8 (off 85’ for Jones)
Community Rating — 8.5 (MOTM)
Morris is hitting on all cylinders, and he once again carried the offense on his back early. After scoring in the 2nd minute he remained a threat offensively, registering an assist and multiple Red Bull calls to the sideline for new shorts, as their defenders wet themselves with Jordan running at them.
One thing I liked: Jordan makes good runs, he has developed a good, accurate cross with both feet, and he finishes cleanly, but he still has more. In the 23rd minute he had a simply extraordinary diving header assist, reading the play perfectly and redirecting the ball into the lap of Lodeiro for a goal. What a play.
One thing I didn’t like: If there is any critique of Morris it is that he doesn’t utilize his overlapping fullback well. Smith on numerous occasions made decent runs that Jordan failed to pick out.
Going forward: Morris has figured out he’s bigger, stronger, and faster than nearly everyone in the league. I’m here for it.
Nico Lodeiro — 8 (MOTM)
Community Rating — 8.0
Lodeiro is another player who seemed like they had a quiet match but on re-watch was everywhere. He had only the second-most touches on the team for the first time in a while, but he converted those into two shots, two goals, and two key passes. In between he was covering huge layers of the field, supporting nearly everywhere.
One thing I liked: This was such an impressive, complete game for Nico. It was Nico who popped up to score two opportunistic goals created by hustle, but he also had an incredible 15 defensive actions. He does so much for the team for 98 minutes.
One thing I didn’t like: There were a couple of times Nico got caught pushing the tempo when I thought Seattle needed a breather. Once he convinced Frei to send him long into multiple defenders, but it resulted in quick possession lost and created a chance for New York.
Going forward: As more offensive-minded pieces are added around him, Nico’s options (and effectiveness) should only increase.
Cristian Roldan — 8
Community Rating — 7.6
Roldan did it all this match: three shots, an assist, a dozen defensive actions and the play that finally allowed all the fans to relax late. Every time Roldan got the ball, good things were happening in the offensive end, as he won multiple corners and had excellent wide service into the box.
One thing I liked: Cristian just keeps getting better and better as weaker players get tired. His work-rate is exceptional, and his ability to improve as the match goes on made it seem for a few moments like it was Roldan taking on the whole NY team.
One thing I didn’t like: Roldan had a dismal 56% completion rate. He really struggled to connect passes and was uncharacteristically sloppy.
Going forward: It’s so fun to see Roldan feed off the amazing mentors he has had on this team. I see an Ivanschitz shoulder shrug to gain space to cross, followed by an Alonso-esque body check, finished off by a Nico-endurance, impossible hustle-play late in a match. He is a treasure.
Raul Ruidiaz — 6 (off 92’ for SAS)
Community Rating — 6.5
This was a quiet outing from Ruidiaz, who put in the work to help his team, but was unable to get much going for himself. His runs remain dangerous and they are creating for everyone around him, but against New York he failed to find any clean looks at goal.
One thing I liked: Ruidiaz is another guy who really pushes late in matches and seems to always be involved in late success. In the 83rd it was an innocuous bit of hold up play from Raul who held off three defenders before finding an outlet, opening up the field. Moments later he was in the box dashing near post for the Rodriguez pass that was deflected in.
One thing I didn’t like: This game was too quiet for our star striker. He should be able to do better than one shot and one key pass.
Going forward: Ruidiaz is a dominant striker, and he’s helping the offense in so many ways besides just scoring.
Victor Rodriguez — 6 (on 66’ for Delem)
Community Rating — 6.5
It was so nice to get Victor back on the field for the first time in 10 matches. He looked good, too, instantly combining with those around him and demanding the ball in dangerous positions, having a big part in two goals.
One thing I liked: Vrod had 17 touches and showed little rust. His passing and movement were clean, and a thoughtful dummy earned Nico a late goal after his pass earned the go ahead.
One thing I didn’t like: Holding onto a lead late and subbing in Victor led to an almost immediate NYRB goal. While it’s not his fault, the team must adjust better in these transitions.
Going forward: I hope Rodriguez has a chance to show how good he is in the last four matches.
Joevin Jones — 5 (on 85’ for Morris)
Community Rating — 5.5
Jones entered in the 85th for Morris and went to right wing. It wasn’t a very busy few minutes for Joevin, who only had four touches, but the game clinching-goal came from his side.
One thing I liked: Jones came in and changed the shape around. I don’t know what it is, but he plays such a relaxed style, that it tends to slow the match and help possession when he enters.
One thing I didn’t like: Jones completed both passes he attempted backwards, and failed on both that he attempted forward.
Going forward: Playing a left back at right mid was a headscratcher. I am not sure what the plan was here.
Saad Abdul-Salaam — 5 (on 92’ for Ruidiaz)
Community Rating — 5.5
Throwing in another tall body was the call in the 92nd minute. That tall body was Abdul-Salaam.
One thing I liked: Saad came in to lock it down and was 100% passing.
One thing I didn’t like: I don’t know where he was intended to play. It looked like maybe right back, but there was some confusion.
Going forward: In a busy week, there are a lot of opportunities for SAS to get time.
Allen Chapman — 7
Community Rating — 6.5
This was another good referee job for an MLS match. I have been impressed lately with the referees, and this was another game where VAR was used effectively if not quickly. There were some issues with hard fouls and a lot of contact allowed, but it was fairly consistent both ways.
One thing I liked: Chapman is the first ref this year to give a simulation card in favor of the Sounders and it was glorious. Maybe this will lead to an increase in yellows for diving. One can hope.
One thing I didn’t like: Fourteen total fouls in a game this physical just wasn’t enough. There was a lot of physical play allowed, which led to at least one injury sub and some hard fouls.
Going forward: It seems like the referees have had an upgrade in quality (accuracy, fairness, consistency, etc.) over the second half of the season, and it would be great to continue this trend.
RED BULLS MOTM:
Defender Aaron Long was the resounding winner among the voters, with 129 of 202, or 89 percent.
With a short week, we are going to see how deep this team is.